La Via Campesina condemns the recent criminalization of the exchange of traditional seeds in Tanzania

La Via Campesina condemns the recent criminalization of the exchange of traditional seeds in Tanzania

Our fears are confirmed and everything we have been fighting against: The Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa [1] (AGRA), the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition [2] (NASAN), the Common Markets in Eastern and Southern Africa [3] (COMESA) and the Community for the Development of Southern Africa [4](SADC), seed harmonization regulatory systems. Consultations with small producers and their respective and various associations were limited and were held at the last minute, after pressure from civil society organizations. We emphasize that the path of the seed harmonization policy that promotes the industrial seed trade would lead to the criminalization of traditional seed conservation systems, based on the free exchange of seeds without restrictions.

Tanzania is the first country in the area where the mobilization of those affected will be seen if it translates into an expansion of social protest, not only in its territory, but also in the rest of the African countries subscribed to the harmonization systems and those governed by NAFSN. If the protests fail, we will see other governments follow in Tanzania's footsteps, laying the groundwork for the widespread criminalization of peasant exchange systems.

"Tanzania is a pioneer in criminalizing the traditional exchange of seeds, small producers and their allies must give a forceful response," Elisabeth Mpofu told the ZIMSOFF peasant leader and the LVC general coordination. "We will use all avenues at our disposal, including the involvement of our governments internally and also internationally," he added, "through the United Nations agencies in Rome and Geneva," referring to both FAO and UNHCR.

He reiterated the need to reach the growing urban population (the great market and battlefield that large food corporations seek to capture) through awareness campaigns that educate and promote the traditional diet. The emerging healthy eating movement and debates around climate change provide opportunities and material to raise awareness against big food corporations. "Everybody wants a clean environment and good food," says Elisabeth Mpofu. "We are going to take advantage of this speech to dialogue with our urban counterparts, since our traditional agroecology techniques are the only ones capable of meeting this requirement," he added.

Africa has entered a new phase in which its governments, eager for investment, respond to private companies that do not consider the interests of local communities, but rather the increase of their own profit and the expansion of their markets.

If we look at the number of countries that subscribe to COMESA, SADC and NAFSN, they comprise more than half of Sub-Saharan Africa, which means full penetration and control of smallholder seed systems on all four sides, 'says Delmah Ndlovu , leader of ZIMSOFF. This is already a fact because most of these countries will start any day of these to implement the reform of the seed legislation that favors seed companies. "Tanzania has just unbalanced the playing field in favor of agribusiness, giving it free rein and unlimited access to seed markets, in turn preventing the traditional exchange of seeds." All of this contradicts article 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), also known as the 'Seed Treaty', which states that no law should 'limit any rights of farmers to conserve, use, exchange and sell agricultural material '.

By limiting seed exchanges in certain areas, Tanzania (and other governments that will unfortunately follow the same steps) are against the freedom of farmers to exchange seeds and decide what to grow, which is key to building, through food sovereignty, an alternative to agribusiness. Again it goes against our culture that promotes family, kinship ties and the communities that such exchanges reinforce.

La Via Campesina SEAF and its allies will exhaust all avenues of mobilization against this. In Zimbabwe, ZIMSOFF targets urban consumers to influence their dietary decisions. Together with other similar peasant organizations, they organize traditional food and seed fairs and participate in similar annual national events. All of this is designed to promote greater awareness about the current issue of food and seeds.

These examples should and are spreading in other African countries. It is vital that the African population mobilizes and puts pressure on both their governments and other socio-economic actors, to protect Africa's genetic biodiversity and its rich culture and value system. We must be sovereign over the decisions that affect our lives!



[1] Promotes expanding the use of chemical fertilizers, 'improved' seeds and agricultural research

[2] Present in 10 African countries, it promotes reforms of 1) The seed law and policies to align with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) of 1991 and 2) land tenure policies that allow investment private.

[3] Focuses primarily on the seed trade

[4] It mainly focuses on the Variety Provision System based on Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUE)

Via Campesina

Video: Paula Gioia- La Via Campesina (September 2021).